Mumbai | January 30, 2019: The Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi dedicated to the nation the “National Salt Satyagraha Memorial” at Dandi, Gujarat at 4 pm on January 30, 2019. A project of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. The National Salt Satyagraha Memorial (NSSM) was announced by then Prime Minister in 2005 during the 75th anniversary of the Dandi Salt March movement. The memorial is a tribute to the 80 marchers who accompanied Mahatma Gandhi from Sabarmati to Dandi in 1930.
IIT Bombay’s association with the NSSM began because of IIT Bombay’s pioneering research in renewable energy. The Memorial is being powered by solar energy and is a Zero Energy project in keeping with the Gandhian ideal of sustainability. Prof. Juser Vasi initiated IIT Bombay’s contribution towards the solar energy needs of the project and Prof. Kirti Trivedi conceptualized the design and ably guided the art aspects of the NSSM. Several other members of the faculty, students and staff at IIT Bombay made key contributions in this collaborative effort.
The design of the NSSM has art and technological aspects include the statues of 81 marchers, 24 narrative murals, main statue of Gandhiji, an artificial lake, solar trees and a salt-making activity for visitors.
Making of sculptures of (80) Dandi Marchers, 24 Narrative Murals
The sculptures of 80 full-size Dandi Marchers’ were created through the voluntary combined efforts of the creative community – both national and international. It included 48 sculptors, selected through a world-wide call for participation who worked together during the workshops at IIT Bombay under the guidance of IDC and experienced resource persons.
A 15-feet high bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi was created by eminent sculptor Mr. Sadashiv Sathe. The statue of the Mahatma intends to project the forceful forward march of a great leader leading the people towards freedom from exploitation and injustice.
The NSSM also has 24 narrative murals depicting events from the march from Sabarmati to Dandi. The satyagrahis covered a distance of 241 miles in 24 days and stopped for rest in the villages along the Dandi path. These murals were created with guidance by a team of sculptors led by Prof. Shanthi Swaroopini, JNAFAU, Hyderabad and cast in silicon bronze by Studio Sukriti, Jaipur. The team of sculptors interacted extensively with a team from IIT Bombay and members from the High Level Dandi Memorial Committee (HLDMC) for the creation of these murals.
Design and Engineering Excellence:
Professors from IIT Bombay put in their years of research and experience to work on the various components of the monument in a spirit of shaamdhan to conceive and build a monument of National importance Professors from the IDC School of Design worked and coordinated all the art components, the sculpture of the marchers, the Glass Cube on the 40 meter A-pillar and the narrative murals while the Professors from the Electrical Engineering Department worked on the aspects of ‘the net-zero energy consumption’ Solar Trees. The team from the Civil Engineering Department worked on the ‘non-permeable’ and ‘geotextile’ Artificial Lake and the structures, the Professors from the Physics Department worked on the lasers for lighting the glass crystal, Professors from the Material Science and Metallurgy Department suggested materials and coatings for the memorial to make it rust-proof and durable and finally, the Professors from the Earth Sciences Department worked on the quality and longevity of the various rocks used in the memorial.
Implementation of the NSSM:
The implementation of the National Salt Satyagraha Memorial was entrusted to the Cntral Public Works Department (CPWD). The realization of the concepts at the site posed many challenges as Dandi is a remote location near the sea. From tendering the project to soil testing and laying the foundation; creating the embankments and the impervious lining of the artificial lake; ; the installation of solar trees; fabricating and installing the salt-crystal tower; creating the pathway and placing the mural pedestals and murals; addressing aspects of horticulture - all required careful attention and planning. The office of the CPWD played a crucial role in this regard, supervising all details of the Memorial. The detailed drawings for the memorial were created by Sandeep Shirke Associates, Mumbai and the construction was carried out by Sree Ganesh Corporation, Navsari.
Solar trees, Salt making pans and technology-enabled guided tour at the memorial complex
Energy for the entire memorial is generated from 41 solar trees developed by IIT Bombay and installed at the site. The energy generated would be fed into the grid during the day and the Memorial would then draw power from the grid at night, making it a Zero Energy initiative. Salt-making pans designed by IIT Bombay in collaboration with potter Abbas Glawani, at Kumbharwada, Dharavi would enable
visitors to make a pinch of salt and take it along as a memory of their visit to the NSSM. This salt making activity celebrates the strategic brilliance of the Mahatma, who used the powerful metaphor of salt to lead the nation towards independence. To enrich the experience of the visitor an E-tour made available as an app on smart phones has been designed. IIT Bombay is also working on the possibility of supplying treated water to the National Salt Satyagraha Memorial complex and to the villages near Dandi.
Salt Crystal Tower
The main statue of Gandhiji has two stylized hands around it, raised up in the sky holding a glass cube symbolizing a salt crystal. A bank of laser lights are used to create a pyramid of light rising in the sky illuminating the salt crystal at the apex.
Background note on Dandi March, 1930: The Salt Law, imposed by the British in 1857, right at the beginning of their rule in India, was one of the most exploitative and backbreaking rules in the context of the Indian masses. This was something that Gandhiji realized as early as in 1891 when he was a law student in London. In some of his writings for the Vegetarian Society, he narrates the poverty of Indian people and their food habits. He mentions that a large section of the people of India could not afford even two meals a day. Even the single meal they had was not accompanied with any vegetable or cereals. Salt was the only accompaniment and taste maker, ‘which was heavily taxed’. This engagement with the Salt Law went on till 1930, where before the Salt Satyagraha was to commence, Mahatma Gandhi wrote several letters to the Viceroy conveying his intent to start the movement and his willingness to give it up if the government was willing to withdraw. When all the appeals and requests failed, Gandhiji, with 80 hand-picked Satyagrahis started the historic 241-mile journey from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi and with a simple gesture, defied the mightiest kingdom; a simple act that shook the British empire.
Further details about the memorial may be found on the website www.dandimemorial.in.